On Friday, 9 November 2012, Janice and I took Amtrak from the Route 128 station near Boston to New York's Penn Station to visit ailing Steve A.L. in Brooklyn. While I wish that our trip was under better circumstances, we still had a good time catching up with friends from college, as well as some from high school and grad school. On the train, I enjoyed the manga adaptation of Gail Carriger's supernatural steampunk Soulless.
We checked into the Hotel Indigo, where our room was small but the staff was responsive. Janice and I then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back to Steve's place, where we met him, his wife Michele, and their athletic son Nate. We ordered dinner from Gandhi Palace and picked up dessert at Lassen & Hennings.
On Saturday, Janice and I grabbed bagels for breakfast before meeting Steve at the Brooklyn Museum. Damon F.P. and Carlo R. came down from Westchester to join us, and Dexter V.H. stopped by from Queens on the way to visit his father. Janice had never been to that museum before, and Steve took us through its impressive collections of ancient Egyptian and early American art.
In addition to grabbing a late lunch at the museum's renovated cafeteria, we chatted about history, current genre television, relationships, and religion. It's always nice to be able to have such wide-ranging conversations.
Janice and I later rejoined Steve at his place, where we met Corbin A.Y., Dave F.R-B., and John Z.G. & Kim A.G. and their teenage son Mark. Steve & Michele were gracious hosts, supplying us with lots of munchies and beverages and ordering proper New York pizzas from Monty Q's.
John then ran an AD&D2 "Gwynedd in Greyhawk" game. We slipped back into character easily, even though that high fantasy campaign originally ran from 1984 to 1995, and we hadn't role-played that particular group of characters in more than 20 years.
Janice, Michele, and Nate didn't participate, but Andy M., another SUNY-Binghamton alumnus now living in Chicago, joined us via Skype (which I use for my regular Sunday night scenarios). Corbin had tracked him down online, and it was great to reconnect after many years. It was also nice to play alongside Mark, who has inherited his parents' love of games.
I may eventually write up my notes of what happened within the session, but our jokes and camaraderie were more important than any old rules set or storylines. That said, our adventuring party reunited to raid the tower of a necromancer who had cursed the son of Steve's Halfling Thief "Branador."
Of all the Dungeon Masters I've been lucky enough to know, my former roommate John is the best at depicting memorable Non-Player Characters, gory battles, and an environment for creative teamwork.
Despite rolling lots of critical fumbles — 1 on 1d20, made worse because I had brought extra dice — we managed to fight our way through various Undead. My Grey Elf Ranger "Aldarion" had some good scouting scenes and was among those to get clobbered in combat. Our group (now about Level 15) had to bargain with extraplanar entities to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Good times!
On Sunday, Janice and I met the gang again. While waiting, I got to see Nate's blazing pitching ability. While he needs to hone his skills, his strength is undeniable. We went to the Park Plaza Diner for brunch. Although Dave left his wife and son back in Buffalo, N.Y., Corb brought his wife Andria and cheerful daughter Maia.
Steve then took us to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where we saw a small bit of the damage left by Hurricane Sandy. The others left, and Steve, Janice, and I stopped by St. Mark's Comics and later met Carlo, Brian D.H., and Erik B.L. and his precocious daughter Emma at the Park Plaza Diner for dinner. (All of the children of our friends resemble their parents in the best ways.) As always, our discussions were illuminating, if too brief.
We returned to Steve & Michele's place to watch Disney/Marvel's The Avengers, which Janice and others hadn't yet seen. The next morning, Janice and I again grabbed breakfast at Montague Street Bagels before heading to Penn Station and back to Massachusetts.